Wednesday 17 April 2013

Irish Famine Tribunal this weekend in New York City

Top international judges will this weekend be part of a tribunal hosted by Fordham Law School in New York City to examine the responsibility of the British Government for the tragic consequences of the Irish Famine, An Gorta Mór, 1845-1852.

The Tribunal will consider whether the British role during the Famine amounted to either genocide or a crime against humanity.

Prosecution and defence teams, including law students from Fordham Law School and Dublin City University, will present their cases before the panel of judges.

Joining them will be authors Tim Pat Coogan (“The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy”) and John Kelly (“The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People”), along with historian Dr. Ruan O’Donnell, Head of the Department of History at the University of Limerick.

Some of the questions to be discussed:
  • Were the repeated, devastating failures of the potato crop beyond the power of any government, in the context of the time, to effectively manage?
  • Was Ireland particularly vulnerable to famine and, if so, why?
  • What relief efforts were made?
  • How responsive was the government in London to reports from relief officials in Ireland?
  • How influential were laissez-faire and providentialist ideologies?
  • Did British policy makers take advantage of the Famine to “reform” Irish society?
  • Was it only the British government that stood by while Ireland starved?
  • What part was played by landlords, merchants, big farmers, shopkeepers and, more generally, the Irish middle classes?
The Irish Famine Tribunal will be held at Fordham University Law School, 140 W. 62nd Street, New York City on Saturday 20 April (Registration 9:30am) and Sunday 21 April (Registration 10:30am).